It has been a turbulent 48 hours for the Nashville Predators organization with trades and the team’s only General Manger in its history, David Poile, announcing his retirement and transition to Barry Trotz.
Oh yeah, and the Predators played a hockey game completely undermanned (only 10 forwards) and dug deep to get their third-straight win by tallying six goals against the Arizona Coyotes.
Now the easy question that arises from Trotz’ takeover as General Manager is how this will affect Head Coach John Hynes’ job security? It might put him under the microscope a little more with Trotz in charge, but it appears that Hynes will get his opportunity to show this team is improving throughout the rest of this season.
Hynes has 25 Games to Show Trotz the Nashville Predators are Building Something
Per a report from Paul Skrbina of The Tennessean, Trotz is going to take the upcoming weeks and months to evaluate Hynes and the rest of the coaches, but on a player development scale and not just about winning and losing.
“Hopefully I can do that in assessing the coaches. ‘Are these the right coaches for the players?’ We’re in a winning league. If our players continue to improve … I’m watching some of these young Preds; they’re getting better. So the coaching staff is doing something right.” -Barry Trotz on Evaluating John Hynes, Per The Tennessean
This is an interesting, and valid, approach to take from a new general manager. Trotz wants to see how Hynes and the rest of his coaching staff are developing the young core that will be the future of this franchise.
Tomasino has five points in seven games, including an assist and over 18 minutes of ice time in the win over Arizona on Sunday night when the Predators were depleted of their forwards due to trades and injuries.
Glass has grown into a reliable and exciting top-line center. Hynes has plenty of reasons to get some criticism, but elevating Glass to this role and leaving him there and proven to be very beneficial and should be a positive in Trotz’s evaluation of Hynes.
Ryan Johansen is likely out for the season, Parssinen is day-to-day, Nino Niederreiter has already been traded, and Tanner Jeannot was held out of the game due to trade reasons leading all the way up to warm-ups.
The Predators made a lucrative trade of Jeannot with the Tampa Bay Lightning that brought back a boat load of draft picks and a young defenseman in Cal Foote for Trotz:
The Predators have lost two key forwards to their group through trades, and have dealt with the injuries of Forsberg, Johansen and Carrier. So it’s completely understandable that Trotz isn’t just focused on if the team wins, but also if it’s growing through the adversity. That’s what great head coaches do. They get their team to respond through the pressure.
Player Development and Culture Important to Trotz
Regardless of if the Predators make the playoffs or not, if the young core continues to improve and put their stamp on this team, it will be good for Hynes’ job security.
Hynes has one more year left on his contract, and I’m sure Trotz doesn’t want to rush into a head coaching chance unless he sees a glaring problem. With the team finding ways to win and not completely out of playoff contention yet thanks to the younger players continuing to develop, that does look good on the coaching staff.
A valiant effort down the stretch and a near miss of the playoffs may very well keep Hynes around for another season. It all hinges on how this team responds to adversity under Hynes’ head coaching leadership.
Plus, you have to remember that Poile is still in a consulting role. Poile and Trotz have an enormous amount of mutual respect for one another, so I doubt Poile is just beating the table telling Trotz he needs to move on from Hynes. If anything, they’re consulting with one another to take the wait-and-see approach with how Hynes guides this younger team down the stretch.
On the flip side, however, if the Predators fold over the last 25 games and Trotz sees something systematically that he doesn’t like, then it is entirely possible that a head coaching change happens in the offseason. It’s all about progress and development from a player standpoint from here on out.
Hynes essentially has 25 regular season games left to show Trotz that he is building a foundation. That this team, despite it’s inconsistencies, is going forward and not backward.
Is it as simple as if Hynes misses the playoffs then he’s gone? I don’t think it’s that simple due to everything that has happened this season. I know people don’t like excuses, but you have to consider everything before just brashly firing a head coach when your GM’s chair isn’t even warm yet.
Furthermore, the trade deadline and what else the Nashville Predators do should give us a signal of Trotz’ objective for the rest of this season. Does he try to be a cautious buyer or does he stay true to being a seller and thinking long-term future?
We need to see progress and fight from this team. A strong finish, playoffs or not, and perhaps Hynes gets the final year on his contract.